“Gunmetal Magic” is the latest release from the New York Times bestselling author Ilona Andrews. It tells the story of Andrea Nash, a damaged character who has recently lost both her job and her boyfriend. When a group of shape-shifters are found dead, Andrea is forced to work with her ex-boyfriend to try to solve the murders.
If this book was not tied to the Kate Daniels series, I probably would have given it three stars instead of four. As in any Andrews book, there is a lot of action, an interesting exploration of mythology, and plenty of witty one-liners. Unlike the other books in the series, a lot of the action tends to be overshadowed by the main character’s narration and personal issues. Andrea has always struggledto embrace her true nature as a shape-shifter, and that struggle becomes a major part of the plot.
My main issue with the book was that at times Andrea’s whiney narrative distracted from the murders she was supposed to be investigating. Her relationship with her ex-boyfriend is extremely unhealthy. Both characters treat each other cruelly and then later forget each other as if nothing had happened. One character is introduced as both an ally and potential romantic competition, but nothing ever comes from it. His presence seemed more like a prop to help push the book forward.
Though it is meant to be a stand-alone novel, “Gunmetal Magic” has much more to offer to readers who are already familiar with the Kate Daniels series. The book is in line with the series continuity, but presents a different narrator. The book contains a bonus novella featuring the main narrator of the series. The events of the novella line up with the events of “Gunmetal Magic.”
Because this book is meant for readers who are familiar with the rest of the series, Andrews does not waste time with world-building. This is a book for people who already understand the universe Andrews has created and the characters that inhabit it. The series’ main characters make enough cameos to keep fans happy without stealing the scenes.
Despite its moments of weakness, ‘Gunmetal Magic’ is extremely well written, especially for an urban fantasy novel. Andrews is one of the masters of the genre, but readers might not pick up on her skill if they choose to read this book before checking out the Kate Daniels series.
I recommend reading the first book in the series “Magic Bites” before diving into “Gunmetal Magic.” It would save a lot of confusion and offers much more interesting and fully developed characters.